Living Like an Alien

 Do you ever feel like you are living like an alien?  Like you don’t really belong here on earth at this time in history? I do. I don’t watch the news much, but it seems like every time I do, I am more convinced that I’ve landed in an alternative universe where the Earth spins backward and wrong is right and good is evil.

Other believers in my circle have similar stories. It sounds cliché to say that we have lost our moral compass. But it seems we have. Even the name “Christian” is held in disdain when just a few years ago, it was a term of respect.

We are surprised by backlash against Christians and  overt hostility aimed at what we value. I don’t think we should be. Paul warned us that the enemy would make evil seem good and good seem evil. (2 Timothy 4:3)

Cocoons, chameleons and commandos

Some of us respond by cocooning ourselves deep within our Christian communities. We spend most of our time with other believers and only poke our heads out when we absolutely must. Living like an alien in an alien community seems preferable to being vulnerable and open to attack. 

ChameleonOthers try to blend in. They become a sort of Christian chameleon, taking on the appearance of whatever group they are with. They go to church on Sunday and do all the “Christian” things. But on Monday morning, they act like everyone else in their sphere of influence, laughing at the same jokes, taking the same ethical shortcuts, and keeping their faith to themselves. Faith is a private matter after all, right? 

And still, others become commandos. They form armies of like-minded people and stridently voice their views. They don’t seem to care who they hurt as long as they protect their rights and beliefs. 

I have resorted to each of these methods at different times in my life. Maybe you have as well. I believe we can do better. 

Is there another way?

So, how are we to live in a world that has gone haywire?

I found some answers in the Old Testament not long ago. Jeremiah was written during a tough time in Israel’s history. Nebuchadnezzar’s army had overrun the city of Jerusalem, destroyed Solomon’s grand temple, and captured many of Jerusalem’s young nobles. His goal was to assimilate them into Babylonian culture.

While some of the Israelites submitted to the indoctrination, others chafed at their forced lifestyle. They wanted to launch a rebellion and return home. They had encouragement from some of their religious leaders who told them they wouldn’t have to stay long.

But Jeremiah sent them a letter telling them how to act in captivity. It wasn’t what they were expecting. He wrote, “This is what the Lord of armies, the God of Israel, says to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and father sons and daughters and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may give birth to sons and daughters; and grow in numbers there and do not decrease. Seek the prosperity of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord in its behalf; for its prosperity will be your prosperity.” Jeremiah 29:4-7

Wise Words to Aliens

Those words resonated with me. These men and women not only felt like aliens. They had become aliens. They had been removed from everything that seemed good and familiar to them and transplanted to a strange land where they didn’t speak the language or understand the customs.

Jeremiah, speaking for God, tells them that they’re going to be there for a while. In fact, they are facing 70 long years in captivity. They needed to realize that this situation was from God, and for their good.

Their attitude was to be that of permanent residents. Resident aliens, if you will. Most of the exiles would never see their homeland again. They would die in a strange land as punishment for generations of disobedience and idolatry. But they were not without hope. They might never see home again. But they could keep the vision of Jerusalem alive in the hearts of their offspring.

Some advice to those living like an alien

Jeremiah’s advice to the exiles was to maintain their identity. They were to build houses, marry and have children, and encourage their children to do the same. And he encouraged them to work hard and have careers, but they weren’t to assimilate into the pagan culture and religion because Idolatry had gotten them here in the first place.

But that didn’t mean they weren’t to be involved in their community. Daniel was a faithful Jew while being a valued member of the court of at least 3 different kings.

They were to cooperate as much as possible with their new neighbors. There was nothing to be gained by fighting against the inevitable.

Responding to an alien environment

How can we respond to our own alien environment? Here are a few things I see in scripture.

1. Put down roots wherever you are. It doesn’t matter if you plan to stay 2 years or a lifetime, unpack and settle down. I encourage you to find a church nearby that is part of your community. But don’t limit yourself to Christian activities. Join a gym or a walking group. If you have a dog, put a leash on him and walk. That’s how I’ve met dozens of my neighbors.
2. “Seek the prosperity of the city where I have sent you.” I believe this means we are to use our skills and abilities well and contribute to the general well-being of those around us. In addition to working and paying taxes, look around for other ways to make your city better. If you have a bent for political involvement, run for school board or alderman. If you’re an athlete, see if you can coach youth sports. There is a place for what you do well. You just have to find it.
3. Watch your words. “Your speech must be always with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:6) Take a stand for your Christian values. But do it with love and grace. Be careful what you post on social media. “We are ambassadors for Christ” (II Corinthians 5:20). An ambassador represents the one who sent them, not their own agenda. The delete button can be your friend.

Salt and Light

In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us we were to be both salt and light. Salt seasons and preserves. Light reveals truth and chases out darkness.

When God’s people live godly lives in our communities, we can make a difference. We can season and preserve the good around us. We can illuminate the good, and eliminate darkness. He has sent us into the world. Living like an alien is what we do. But we are to be aliens embedded in culture. 

The Great Commission: Living Like an Alien

If we choose to cocoon ourselves with other believers, we concentrate all the salt in one place and light only the area directly around us.

If we become chameleons and try to blend in, we are like that lamp hidden under a basket. No one will see or respond to our message.

If we lash out against every perceived grievance, we are seen only for what we oppose. Paul said that without love, we are like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (I Corinthians 13:1) This is how some unbelievers perceive us.

If we live our lives in community and respond to the needs around us, if we contribute to the prosperity of our friends and neighbors and speak words of love and wisdom, we can fulfill the Great Commission right where we are.

Go ahead. Go out and live like an alien.

All scripture quotations are from the NASB 2020 Copyright The Lockman Foundation


Lisa Crowe

Lisa recently retired from the State of NC where she served families of children with disabilities, and now spends her time writing and serving missionaries as Partner Services Advocate for MAP Global, an international mission sending agency. She serves as Prayer Team Director for her local church and leads a Ladies Bible Study. Lisa loves to travel, read, and hike the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. She shares her Canton NC home with her two dogs Daisy and Bernie. You can connect with Lisa on Facebook or Instagram where she microblogs.

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  1. Good job, Lisa, of explaining how we can live with a balanced approach in this crazy world.

  2. In this crazy world, a breath of sanity. Thanks Lisa, there is a paradigm shift in our culture and you brought up biblical approaches to deal with it. Very timely!

  3. I DO feel like I’m an alien living in a world so different than when I grew up! Good advice here. Hiding isn’t the answer and lashing out never solves our problems! Thank you, Lisa for this reminder of how we are to live in a world that is not our home!

  4. Lisa, thank you for addressing this at this time in our lives and our culture. Things definitely seem topsy-turvy right now. It weighs on me everyday. I also have been a cocoon, chameleon, and a commando. This article is a GREAT reminder how to mindfully live in today’s world, but not be of this world. Bravo my friend. Such great insight!!! ❤️

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